On 1 March 2009, the Queensland State Government implemented the Moreton Bay Marine Park, zoning more than 40% of the productive fishing grounds of Moreton Bay for conservation purposes.
To offset the impacts of the new zones on commercial fishers, the State Government staged a process to buy-out fishing licenses.
The Structural Adjustment Package was a licence buy-out process, implemented to reduce the environmental, social and economic effects of commercial fishing grounds being heavily reduced.
The buy-out process was seriously flawed, and now the same number of commercial fishermen are operating in a vastly reduced area.
Applications for buy-out were assessed for ‘best value for money’ and not the degree of impact on the applicant.
As a result, licences that operate outside Moreton Bay or licences that are dormant or were only used on part-time basis were bought out. The overall number of commercial fishing vessels working in the Bay has not been reduced.
A total of 119 licenses were bought-out, yet the process failed to remove real, active effort from the Bay or compensate those fishers who were most affected by the new zones.
Moreton Bay fishers have been forced to fish harder instead of smarter, leading to immense economic, social and environmental impacts.
We feel that without a review, the long term viability and sustainability of the Moreton Bay fishery is threatened, and South East Queensland residents will not have the opportunity to purchase local, sustainably caught seafood produce.